What a great year for metal music. If you don’t agree then you obviously haven’t been paying attention! We had some big bands come up with their best works in years; Metallica and Dream Theater, I am looking at you!!!! I am also putting Lacuna Coil in this first group. Best thing they’ve done, maybe ever. Andrea Ferro has really stepped up and unleashed his beast. As I assume that everyone has at least some knowledge of those three bands, I am NOT putting them in my top 10 list. I would prefer to introduce you to some power and prog bands you may never have heard of, or haven’t given much of a chance. Please note that I haven’t gotten around to nearly all of the good stuff that is out there. It was such a good year that it is impossible to keep up with all the great stuff!

Seriously, just as a brief year in review, and just in power/prog metal we had: Rhapsody of Fire, Avantasia, Dream Theater, Primal Fear, Serenity, Holy Grail, Myrath, Delain, Haken, Redemption, and Sinbreed. March brought in the likes of Van Canto, Circus Maximus, Grailknights, Mob Rules, Mystic Prophecy, Amon Amarth and a new Metal Church! I can’t even stay in one genre of metal, there was so much good stuff. We had all the big players come up with something, Fate’s Warning, Sonata Arctica, Hammerfall, Tarja, Sabaton, DGM, Running Wild, Devin Townsend Project, Evergrey, Power Quest, Ghost, Narnia, Iron Mask, Epica, Opeth, Seven Kindgoms, Amaranthe, Theocracy, Civil War, Pretty Maids, Sirena, Freedom Call, Herman Frank.

This order is changing even as I write this. These albums are that good. It is so close that the number order is mostly meaningless, but that is the convention of a top 10 list.

TEN: Pervy Perkin --- ToTeM<

Let’s start with the hardest one first! Not hardest, as in heaviest, hardest as in, this is complicated Prog taken to a whole new level. Do you do Zappa? Can you hang with Pain of Salvation, Haken, Anathema, the Faith No More’s of the world? That’s where we place this. It is CHALLENGING, which is why it can’t be my number one, because you have to WORK for this album. This is a headphones album. It is not a car riding sing along. Assuming you can even make it through the album entirely in one sitting (note, I have not!), you will come away asking yourself, “What the hell did I just listen to?” I, personally, love that feeling and the fact that even after many play throughs I am STILL doing that…..yeah, it deserves a top prog spot for sure. I will be doing a full review of this album at some point. Strangely enough, this sample video does very little to give you an idea of what they really sound like. This is just one of MANY aspects.

NINE: Myrath --- Legacy

I did NOT like their last album, Tales of the Sands. I really wanted to, but it just didn’t connect with me at all. I listened to it in preparation of seeing them at ProgPowerUSA back in 2013. They were good. Maybe really good? But for whatever reason it just didn’t stick with me. Music is funny like that. Sometimes it just strikes your soul and you can’t let go (see my number one!) sometimes it has to grow on you, and sometimes….it just doesn’t work.

The new album, Legacy, immediately struck me as something special in a way the last did not. It’s not obvious, on the face, why the two albums are so different, but the songs here, everything comes together in a way that just makes me want to listen over and over.

EIGHT: Almanac --- Tsar

So Almanac is a super star project type of thing. Sometimes that works, sometimes not so much. Having David Readman, of Voodoo Circle and Pink Cream 69 fame certainly helps. Having Victor Smolski, formerly of Rage, do the writing makes this all work. The songs all work together, and the voices don’t feel forced at all, as they sometimes can in these projects.

SEVEN: Eternal Idol -- The Unrevealed Secret

Can I just say Fabio Lione can do no wrong and leave it at that? No? How about matching with with a female vocalist who is a straight metal singer, not opera? Toned down from bombastic Rhapsody of Fire or Angra, but still firmly in the power metal genre. Such strong songs, sing along choruses, oh yeah, this is bread and butter stuff right here. This could easily be higher.

SIX: Innerwish -- Innerwish

This is really textbook power metal. It has a pleasant heaviness and still manages the sing along choruses. The fact that they have jumped all the way to the top of the list, with such strong competition, can only tell you how good this is.

FIVE: Sunburst -- Fragments of Creation

Hey, remember the band Kamelot? Sure, they are still around and putting out good stuff. But if you were a fan of their Epica and Black Halo years then this right here will be your new jam. If you don’t know, then come discover the awesome. There is a reason why Kamelot became a top tier band, and this new band, Sunburst, are hungry and ready to take the mantle and run with it! Remember the name Gus Drax. He is a new guitar god.

FOUR: Dynazty -- Titanic Mass

Did you like the old hair metal bands of the late 80’s and early 90’s? That’s what Dynazty started off as, but they have moved the bar further and further into pure power metal with each outing. And this is so solid, you won’t even believe it. This is easily the catchiest sing along album in metal for 2016, no doubt in my mind.

THREE: Heaven’s Below -- Good Morning, Apocalypse

Great vocals? Check. Strong songwriting, check. Story going on in the background? Check. Musicianship you expect from this genre, check again. Some great guest stars add to the mix. Holy crap this is good. This is almost straight forward metal, but the power is still there. I can’t do justice to this album with a blurb. Really love it!

TWO: Serenity -- Codex Atlanticus

So, here we have the power metal album of the year. Yes, I know there’s one more left, but bear with me. Serenity is hopefully the best known band on this list. If not, it’s a crime. This cements them in the top tier. They should be mentioned along with Blind Guardian, Helloween, Nightwish, Hammerfall, Sonata Arctica and Gamma Ray. This is a concept album about Nostradamus. On every level this works. And if you don’t know Georg’s voice, you should. It is the most unique in the genre for all the right reasons.

ONE: Damien Wilson/Adam Wakeman -- Weir Keeper’s Tale

Brace yourselves, metal faithful. This is two guys unplugged with a guitar and a piano. And amazing voices. They have the metal pedigree, for sure, Wilson, from Threshold and every Aryeon project, and Wakeman, who is currently touring with Black Sabbath as keyboardist, and is the son of YES founder, Rick Wakeman. To put it simply, this album speaks to my soul like nothing else in 2016. It’s just beautiful. I won’t even try to defend it, if you get it, awesome. If not, put on Serenity! Or check out the honorable mentions coming up! This is my personal favorite song of 2016.

Honorable Mentions

Again, so much good stuff. I had these in my queue, and maybe just didn’t get enough listens to some of these to make the list. Simple as that. It’s all good stuff!

Avantasia -- best Meatloaf not sung by Meatloaf!

Nordic Union&

Universal Mind Project --So many great people on this album. I wish it had come together as a whole better for me, though.

Lords of Black -- Good enough to be hand picked by Ritchie Blackmore to lead a new Rainbow, yes please!

Southern Empire -- More prog rock than prog metal, but really nicely done.

DGM -- I REALLY wish I’d had more time with this release. They would have easily made the top 10 list!

Theocracy -- Also could have made the top 10 if I had more time with it.

Herman Frank -- I have only heard this single, but I love it enough to make the honorable mention list!

Freedom Call-- It does not get more textbook power metal than this!

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Dark Sarah -- I don’t know much about this band, but holy crap do I love this song/video in particular. It’s so different. Very broadway (in a good way)